City seeks to save oak in Azalea neighborhood

The city is hoping to save a decades-old live oak that residents had wanted removed while infrastructure workers were in the area.

Over the years, the tree on Azalea Drive just south of Irish Hill had begun to encroach on Azalea Drive and limited the line of sight at the intersection. In fact, the issue with the three-foot trunk and expanding root system became more evident as Hemphill Construction workers began installing new curb on Azalea, part of the city’s infrastructure work in the neighborhoods between U.S. 90 and Irish Hill.

“Many of these streets are narrow and over the years as these trees grow their root system takes up more and more room, which is an issue when they are near roadways,” said Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich. “In many cases, these trees are part of the character of these neighborhoods, and when we can we try to work around them.”

Azalea, like Gill, and so many of the other streets that connect the two-tenths of a mile between U.S. 90 and Irish Hill, is home to about two dozen homes and is a narrow two-lane street with a traffic volume typically limited to residents.

Some of the residents from the neighborhood had complained to the city that the tree had begun to encroach into the road so much that the street was essentially one lane when it meets Irish Hill. One neighbor even asked for the tree to be cut down and hauled away.

After input from the Tree Committee and City Arborist Eric Nolan – who said the tree was healthy – Gilich stepped in.

“I would like to give this tree a chance to survive,” said the mayor, who met with Tree Committee members at the site. “Some root trimming is necessary for the sake of public safety, as the tree roots are blocking one travel lane of the street. We will trim the roots and install a concrete curb and fertilize the tree to help it recover from the trimming.”

The city plans to re-establish the 18-foot roadway – two nine-foot lanes – after the city’s arborist performs tree root trimming.
Gallery: See the live oak at Azalea

News & notes: Council meeting, traffic update

Council meeting: The Biloxi City Council meets this afternoon at 1:30 at City Hall. To see the agenda and supporting documents, click here.

Traffic update: See the latest on road construction citywide, as well as links to traffic cameras, traffic counts and more by clicking here.